Real-Life History in Fantasy: The Tudors vs. the Hyles

Real-Life History in Fantasy: The Tudors vs. the Hyles

History is one of my greatest sources of inspiration. I’m a huge history nerd when it comes to pretty much anything before the 19th century. 

Daindreth’s Assassin was largely inspired by English history, particularly the family dynamics. Amira is my female main character in the series and her family, the Hyles, are loosely based on the Tudors. If you’re not familiar with the Tudors, they were an English royal family in the Renaissance-ish era. 

If you’re familiar with English history, some things in Daindreth’s Assassin might sound familiar. We have the firstborn princess with red hair who was declared a bastard after her parents’ marriage was annulled. We have an unhappy second wife who can’t give the king a son, and we have the golden-haired younger sister from the second marriage who appears to be her father’s favorite. 

Henry VIII was married to Catherine of Aragon for twenty-something years, but she wasn’t able to give him a son. So after fathering a whole bunch of bastards that were sons, Henry got it into his head that he just needed a new wife. He then flipped the bird at the pope, invented the Anglican Church, made himself the head to annul his own marriage. He also had his only daughter Mary declared a bastard in the process. 

He then married Anne Boleyn, who history has kind of done dirty, I think. We usually see her portrayed as a seductress, a schemer. I don’t think that’s fair or accurate, based on what we know.

While I’m not saying she never did anything wrong, history makes it pretty clear that she tried to avoid Henry’s advances. There’s no evidence she actually ever committed any of the crimes he eventually had her executed for. She also seems to have tried to curb Henry’s runaway religious “reforms” (which were really just money grabs from churches, convents, and monasteries).

I have a list of historical people I absolutely loathe. Henry VIII is on that list.

There is an argument that he did some good things, but he was a pretty crappy guy in general. The way he treated his wives, children, friends, and enemies was awful, for starters.

I like sympathetic villains, but I hate Henry VIII so much, I just don’t think I could write him as a sympathetic character. Therefore, King Hyle in my books is a totally different person. 

A lot of times in Fantasy books, we see kings archetyped as either lecherous tyrants or noble heroes. I wanted to write Amira’s father to be someone who wasn’t either of those things. 

King Hyle isn’t a warrior, but he isn’t necessarily a coward, either. What I feel and what I hope readers pick up is that he’s a man who truly wants to do the right thing for his people. It’s not that he doesn’t love Amira and Fonra, it’s just that he sees them, like himself, as being born to sacrifice for the kingdom. 

King Hyle annulled his marriage to Amira’s mother, but his reason was that was what his new liege lord wanted. He did have Amira declared a bastard, but it was to assure the then-emperor that a sorceress wouldn’t end up on the throne of Hylendale. 

Unlike Henry VIII, King Hyle isn’t on a quest for a son and leverages his daughters as best he can. It ends up being exploitative in a lot of ways, but it happens because he does see them as capable and valuable pieces in his games. Messed up? Yes. But still not as messed-up as Henry VIII.

Another place I also deviated from history is giving the two sisters, Amira and Fonra, a good relationship. I thought Amira needed someone she trusted and would want to protect. In the original drafts, Fonra wasn’t introduced until the end of book 2 and she showed up as Daindreth’s ex. I decided I didn’t like that and I rewrote her to be Amira’s sister and only friend. 

To sum up the changes I made when I transplanted the Tudors into my world, I set them up for happy endings or at least not awful ones. The real-life Tudors had pretty sad lives.

Catherine of Aragon died in a convent. Anne Boleyn got her head lopped off, as we discussed. Mary and Elizabeth were both imprisoned and ostracized by turns, riding the rollercoaster of their father’s favor and disfavor. Mary became queen after her brother’s death, tried to have children, but wasn’t able. People call her “Bloody Mary” because of all the people she killed trying to re-establish Catholicism. Elizabeth became Elizabeth I and she technically killed a lot more people trying to uphold Protestantism. 

Elizabeth is known for establishing England’s Golden Age, but, even as someone who admires her on the whole, I have to say she was a tyrant. She brutally censored the press, there wasn’t really a sense of free speech, and there was definitely no freedom of religion or separation of church and state. (Which, admittedly, is hard when the head of your church is also head of your government.) 

So while I am definitely going to have Amira, Fonra, and my other characters go through a lot before the end, I do want a happy ending. Will everyone make it to the ending? No. Some characters will die. But I want a happy ending or at least a bittersweet one. 

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